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review 2016-07-19 13:35
Review: The Carver by Jacob Devlin


THE GIRL IN THE RED HOOD has been looking for her mother for six months, searching from the depths of New York’s subways to the heights of its skyscrapers . . .

THE PRINCE looks like he’s from another time entirely, or maybe he’s just too good at his job at Ye Old Renaissance Faire . . .

THE ACTRESS is lighting up Hollywood Boulevard with her spellbinding and strikingly convincing portrayal of a famous fairy. Her name may be big, but her secrets barely fit in one world . . .

Fifteen-year-old Crescenzo never would have believed his father’s carvings were anything more than “stupid toys.” All he knows is a boring life in an ordinary Virginia suburb, from which his mother and his best friend have been missing for years. When his father disappears next, all Crescenzo has left is his goofy neighbor, Pietro, who believes he’s really Peter Pan and that Crescenzo is the son of Pinocchio. What’s more: Pietro insists that they can find their loved ones by looking to the strange collection of wooden figurines Crescenzo’s father left behind.

With Pietro’s help, Crescenzo sets off on an adventure to unite the real life counterparts to his figurines. It’s enough of a shock that they’re actually real, but the night he meets the Girl in the Red Hood, dark truths burst from the past. Suddenly, Crescenzo is tangled in a nightmare where magic mirrors and evil queens rule, and where everyone he loves is running out of time.

***Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***


What’s Good: an decent twist on what’s becoming a clichéd, stale idea. Fantasy characters migrating to the Real World and having to return to save everything is nothing new. Author Jacob Devlin invests the tropes with a bit of new life, which is all you can ask for. He also works all the loose ends of the plot into a neat little package; at about 65% or so you’re all caught up. Chapters are short, making for fast and easy reading.


What’s Bad: all the inconsistency. The setting seems lifted- or should I say ‘inspired by’- practically every existing Disney cartoon. It’s more mish-mash than mashup; all manner of fictional and historical characters- including Merlin, Kaa the Snake, Dr. Frankenstein and Mulan- come and go in Fairyland but no rhyme or reason as to how they got there or how it all works- especially at the finale when some of the characters end up in yet another fantasy realm. It’s all there to support the story without consequence and you’re just going to have to roll with it.


Dialogue- like most everything about the book, it seems to be kind of all over the place, almost like it was written freeform. One moment characters are speaking proper, stilted language and the next they’re saying ‘wanna, gonna, ain’t, buddy…’


Typical of a mish-mash, the characters exhibit some of the dumbest behavior at the worst times simply to advance the plot. And it’s pretty tiresome. This kind of stuff isn’t heroic- it’s idiotic, and far too often a crutch authors lean on. How about smarter, more capable villains?


There’s also the plot device of telling the story out of phase, alternating between Real World Now for the current situation and Fairyland Three Years Ago or Fairyland Twenty-Five Years Ago to reveal the backstory. Just when you’d be in the flow of one scenario you’re thrown into another, breaking up the rhythm. And sometimes it’d take several chapters to return to a setting, so you may have forgotten a thing or two and have to go back.


What’s Left: some badly executed good ideas. Nuggets of a story that need sharpening up, otherwise this isn’t a Young Adult story but a Middle Grade one.


2.5/5 stars.

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text 2016-07-19 11:47
Reading Progress: Pg 224 of 319


And now- the rest of the plot...


Pinocchio, Alice, Peter Pan & Wendy Darling manage to steal the magic mirror from the Ivory Queen's castle, nay- her very bedchamber.  But of course they not only wake her from her magic slumber but burn down the whole damn castle in the process.  No biggie; a good villain always has a backup plan... like a hidden chamber down in a mine or something.


Violet is happy to see the kids coming home; Gretel was afraid, so she stayed behind with Violet, who cheered up with stories and such.  The kids bring home the prize, Violet grants their wish and sends to the Real World where they'll become adults.  Just don't tell anyone who you really are- because people fear what they don't understand. 


Suddenly the Ivory Queen emerges from the mirror.  Violet protects Gretel while they do their dialogue about all the eeeevil things the Queen's done and the stupid things Violet's done- like sending children to steal a magic mirror- and they start magicking each other.  The Queen gets suctioned back into the mirror and starts pleading to Gretel for help, who clearly hadn't been paying attention to a damned thing and due to her innate goodness tries to help the Queen, getting sucked into the mirror right along with her.


Violet has no choice but to rally the Order of the Bell- the secret society that protects Fairyland.  Roll call: the Beast, Merlin (yep), Captain Hook, some old woman with a blunderbuss and... Mulan.  Violet already knew what Hansel was up to, so they confront him but the Queen's got her hooks too deep into him and he overwhelms the group save for Mulan, who stole one of his magic darts and zapped herself into the Real World.


Hansel's almost finished; just one more victim and the Queen'll be ready.  The mirror shows him who the next target is... really?  No!  Not them!  Anyone but them!  (Here's a hint: one of the dwarves walks in and sees the target so Hansel zaps them to the Real World).  Now even Hansel's not sure he wants to keep doing this anymore.



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text 2016-07-19 01:59
Reading Progress: Pg 104 of 319


Rosana, Pietro and Enzo talk more and come to an understanding; Pietro's shadow steals two of the figurines and takes off.  Pietro knows where it's headed- Maryland.


Fairyland Three Years Ago: The dwarves ask Violet for help; she realizes the Ivory Queen's got her hooks into Hansel and they decide to destroy the mirror.


Inside the mirror, Hansel is communing with the Queen.  She flat out states she's feeding him darkness and dark power, but he doesn't care- this is how it should be.  Suddenly things start shaking and rumbling; Hansel zaps out of the mirror to find Prince Liam & the dwarves pounding on it.  Chaos ensues.  Liam's a good swordsman- he's been trained by Mulan, y'know- but remains on the defensive.  He's actually never killed anything and has the rep of being a softie.  Hansel sticks him with one of those magic darts- courtesy of the Queen- and he falls, then disappears.


Scared shitless, the dwarves cower and Hansel uses his newfound power to charm them into serving him.  So I guess all the players are in place now.


So looks like this is an Ever After ripoff or something, ok- "Inspired By..."  But it's not so much mashup as mish-mash.  Whatever he thinks is cool or offbeat gets jammed into the story, mostly as references, but still knocks you out of the moment.


And I still don't really care.  Anyone ever seen this movie: Avengers Grimm?  This book feels a lot like that- Jim C. Hines meets Roger Corman.

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text 2016-07-18 19:58
Reading Progress: Pg 21 of 319


Flashback to three years ago; now we've got Hansel, Snow White, and a few dwarves having dinner. Gretel's been missing for over 20 years, the dwarves are losing their mine so Hansel offers to buy it, thinking Gretel might be lost down there.


The owner refuses to sell, citing a discovery of an ancient evil in its depths. Hansel blithely ignores this info and drugs him, at which point the man disappears. Ok, makes sense to me.

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text 2015-10-01 19:43
Snow White Themed Romance Novels
The Fairest of Them All (The Pendletons Book 1) - Leanne Banks
Huntsman's Prey - Marie Hall
Six-Gun Snow White - Catherynne M. Valente
Snow White and the Vampire - Marina Myles
Rose Red - Flora Speer
The Snow White Bride (Jewels of Kinfairlie, #3) - Claire Delacroix
Crave: The Seduction of Snow White - Cathy Yardley
Eight Men And A Lady (Once Upon A Kiss) (Harlequin American Romance #677) - Elizabeth Sinclair
Miss Whiting and the Seven Wards (Fairy Tale Series (Book 1)) - Lynn Collum
The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf - Tia Nevitt

You like the idea of seven men? 


Here are some great Snow White Themed Romances for you! My lists are never in any particular order. 


1. The Fairest of Them All by Leanne Banks


Carly Pendleton doesn't need another overprotective man in her life—she already has seven brothers. So when her old friend Russ Bradford comes courting, she resists. He may be the stuff of feminine fantasies, but he's always been more protective than passionate toward her. And though he's suddenly tempting her to shed her innocence, she's not interested in giving up her hard-won independence—or having her heart broken.


Russ has a well-deserved reputation as a ladies' man, but he's ready to settle down and no one but the beautiful, sexy and kindhearted Carly will do. He's waited to make his move, but can be patient no longer. He's never wanted another woman like this, and so begins an all-out seduction. But can he win her heart?


2. Huntsman's Prey by Marie Hall


Rumors abound in Wonderland, of a dark princess named Chrysalis who bears the Moon's curse. Her beauty is beyond compare, and her madness… even greater than her father’s, The Hatter. Death follows wherever she roams, and Danika—fairy godmother of all villains—knows this task is too great for her to handle on her own. She has no choice but to seek out the one they call Huntsman, his mission is simple: Find the creature, and destroy it.


But nothing is ever so simple in Kingdom. The moment the hunter Aeric steps foot in the mad, twisted realm he's enveloped in a reality that is neither wholly true nor fantasy. The key, the Cheshire explains, to ending the madness is for one to become mad themselves. The Huntsman has one chance to figure out the riddle before the beauty destroys them all…


3. Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente


Forget the dark, enchanted forest. Picture instead a masterfully evoked Old West where you are more likely to find coyotes as the seven dwarves. Insert into this scene a plain-spoken, appealing narrator who relates the history of our heroine’s parents—a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. Although her mother’s life ended as hers began, so begins a remarkable tale: equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have. Filled with fascinating glimpses through the fabled looking glass and a close-up look at hard living in the gritty gun-slinging West, this is an utterly enchanting story…at once familiar and entirely new.


4. Snow White and the Vampire by Marina Myles


Alba Spencer thought her past in Romania and the dark magic that haunted it was behind her forever. She is one of the first female barristers now, safe in London. But London has its dark side, too. A man called the Ripper stalks the midnight streets. There are rumors that her hated stepmother has found her again, suggestions that the nightmares of her childhood are returning. And with them appears the cursed Gypsy boy she once loved, grown into a man more seductive and more terrifying than she ever could have dreamed. . .


Dimitri Grigorescu has become a surgeon, a gentleman—and a vampire. The lusts that drive his body are scarcely under control, and even he does not truly know what he is capable of. To fight evil and confusion, Alba must rely only on her wits—and a desire that overwhelms her doubts. . .


5. Rose Red by Flora Speer


After the murder of their father, sisters Bianca and Rosalinda, with their mother, flee to a villa in the northern Italian Alps, swearing revenge on their enemy, but when the son of the assassin appears at their door one stormy night, Rosalinda discovers her true destiny.


6. The Snow White Bride by Claire Delacroix


The Laird of Kinfairlie has helped his sisters, each a gem in her own right, to find husbands. Now the laird himself seeks to wed, and pins his hopes on The Snow White Bride.


Lady Eleanor knows better than to dream of romance and love. Married twice to secure her father’s alliances, she has learned that she is desirable only for her fortune. When the Laird of Kinfairlie’s sisters ask her to wed their brother, Alexander, Eleanor agrees, expecting only to save herself from danger.


But Alexander is like no man she’s known before, a man more interested in courting her smile than her obedience, a man who values her counsel as much as her newly awakened passion…and a man unaware that Eleanor is the key to a fortune that could ensure the future of everything he holds dear.


Now, ruthless enemies will stop at nothing to secure Eleanor’s capture. Will she dare to trust her new husband before it’s too late for her, for Alexander, and for Kinfairlie?


8. Crave: The Seduction of Snow White by Cathy Yardley


When a woman is ripe for the picking . . .


Beth Cordova's life is no fairy tale. Having barely escaped the evil grasp of her wicked stepmother, this "missing princess" seeks refuge in a strict commune where carnal pleasures are forbidden.


Sometimes just one bite of the apple . . .


Her world is lonely and void of intimacy, until the charming Stephen Trent arrives at the commune. Suddenly Beth yearns for a man's touch, the feel of his lips on hers . . . and Stephen is eager to show this pure-as-snow princess that she can still be the sensual woman she was once upon a time.


Is all it takes to unleash her desires . . .


But all is not what it seems, and the stunning beauty finds herself again in danger, her stepmother hot on her trail. The commune's founders will not tolerate the pair, yet fleeing its walls could prove fatal. Trapped in a world where passion is outlawed, can Beth live happily ever after?



8. Eight Men And A Lady by Elizabeth Sinclair


Recent lottery winner Jackie Barrett wanted peace and quiet away from the newshounds and the endless stream of suitors who were offering her one absurd marriage proposal after another. So, when she awakened from her nap in her brother's cabin to find seven men staring down at her, she felt more than just a little like Snow White. It was just too bad that bachelor #8 was the prince who kissed her awake—because sexy Mike Hamilton had everything on his mind but marriage!


9. Miss Whiting And the Seven Wards by Lynn Collum


For best friends Sara, Ella, and Rosamond, life thus far has been any-thing but a fairy tale. Left to grow up at Mrs. Parson's Academy for Girls, they have little to look forward to upon graduation--not even a Season in London! But, as each young lady is about to learn, Fate, for all her fickleness, is sometimes kind--and happy endings may be found in the most unexpected places...



For Miss Sara Whiting, the only thing harder than parting ways with her two best school chums is returning to a loveless home. Although she is aware of her stepmother's money-grubbing ways, Sara never suspects that the lady would turn to violence. But after a suspicious assault, she awakens to find herself in a warm bed in a cozy cottage--rescued by seven young boys in need of a savior of their own...



War wounds have effectively retired Sir Evan Beaumont from his soldiering career, while his betrothed has jilted him in favor of a wealthy baron. To make matters worse, he owes a favor to the man who saved his life--namely to evict a widow and her children from his friend's property. But when Evan goes to investigate the tenants, he finds himself charmed by both the cottage and its inhabitants--particularly the lovely young woman whom he can't quite believe is the mother of seven strapping sons. The more time Evan spends with the lady, the more he suspects a secret... and the more he loses his heart.. .


10. The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf by Tia Nevitt


Prince Richard is cursed. Enslaved to a magic mirror, he must truthfully answer the evil queen when she uses it to call on him. To keep from betraying innocents, Richard wanders the countryside and avoids people.


All her life, Gretchen has been teased for being small. When she hears of a hidden farm populated by little people like her, she sets out to find it--and is welcomed by the mostly male inhabitants. Lars in particular woos her with his gentle kindness and quiet strength.


Princess Ange has a year before she is to inherit her throne from her strange and cruel stepmother. She lives as a servant in her own home, and the townsfolk call her the Tattered Princess. She often flees her stepmother's cruelty by visiting her friends at the Little Farm, and there, Gretchen and Ange strike up an unlikely friendship.


When Richard finds the queen of the magic mirror, he never expects to fall in love with a scullery maid that works in the castle. And when he discovers her to be none other than the Tattered Princess, he is determined to help her. Then, Richard is compelled to tell the queen that she is no longer the fairest of them all. Enraged, the queen vows to find and destroy them.


If either Gretchen or Richard are to have their happy endings, they must team up to break the mirror's spell before the queen kills them all...


Have any more? Let me know! And vote on my Goodreads list: Snow White Themed Romance Novels

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